Stellar evolution

1920 Stellar evolution

The book of science

Tom Sharp

Arthur Eddington, Hans Bethe, Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker, Ejnar Hertzsprung, Henry Norris Russell astronomy

Stellar evolution

Stellar scientists

My star

Eddington proposed that hydrogen fusion powers stars; that is, it powers what are called “main sequence” stars. Bethe and von Weizsäcker provided the math for the fusion process, showing that stars release heat according to E = mc2. Hertzsprung and Russel graphed the brightness and temperature of stars, showing their normal life-cycles. The eventual states of some stars is speculative because the age of the observable universe is shorter than the time it should take for them to reach these states.

Eventually, when a star burns up all its fuel, it becomes a white or black dwarf, a neutron star, or a black hole; however, this part of the theory was not completed until the brilliant Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar published his doctoral work in 1931.

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